Peaks wants record crowds as Diamonds close in

AFC Rushden & Diamonds manager Andy Peaks
AFC Rushden & Diamonds manager Andy Peaks

Andy Peaks hopes record crowds will cheer his AFC Rushden & Diamonds heroes to the ChromaSport & Trophies United Counties League Premier Division championship.

Diamonds are seven points clear of second-placed Wisbech and, with four of their remaining five games at home, they are red-hot favourites to lift the trophy.

The run-in starts with the visit of Long Buckby to the Dog & Duck on Monday afternoon and Diamonds go into the game boosted by a 2-1 win over Wisbech in midweek that took them through to the Knockout Cup final.

Last month, a record crowd of 930 saw Diamonds and Wisbech fight out a dramatic 1-1 draw in their top-of-the-table league match and Peaks hopes his side will play in front of even bigger numbers in the closing weeks.

Diamonds are unbeaten at home this season and Peaks said: “I’m hoping we will break the 1,000 barrier by the end of the season.

“We’ve got a massive end to the season and hopefully the fans get behind us. They’ve been brilliant all season and maybe we can get 1,000 people there on Monday or for the Wellingborough game the following Saturday.

“There is pressure when you play in front of big crowds, but it’s a nice pressure. There’s more pressure when you’re at the bottom playing in front of one man and a dog.”

Long Buckby are currently 13 points adrift at the foot of the table and facing an end to their 43-year stay in the top flight.

Peaks said: “They’re going to be scrapping for their lives, so it won’t be easy. We’ve just got to stay grounded and keep doing what we’ve been doing.

“We are in a great position and just need to get over the line.”

Peaks has injury worries going into the game on Monday.

Richard Bunting, Elliott Lamb-Johnson and Joe Merrill all picked up knocks in the midweek win over Wisbech.

Jason Turner was the last-gasp goal hero on his return to the side from injury.

Peaks said: “We probably had six players missing and to deservedly beat the team that’s second in the table shows the strength in depth we have.

“I’m really pleased we are getting late goals as well.

“That’s because we’ve been working very hard and our fitness levels are high. There’s also a real belief that we will win games, even when we’re behind.

“We’ve got a never-say-die attitude.”